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A Valentine's Day Conundrum

February 10, 2010 - John Whittaker
Valentine's Day is a tough holiday for a guy.
Do you go with the tried and true (and unoriginal) Valentine's Day staples of jewelry, flowers and candy for your special lady? Do you try something new and risk disappointment (really bad if you're married because you have to spend the rest of the night in the same house and she knows where you sleep)? Do you go out or do you stay in? Do you spend a lot of money or try to be romantic while being, um, frugal? Do you pull the
Naked Man and hope for the best?
Seriously, if your relationship is having issues, a bad performance on Valentine's Day or a birthday will bring them to a head. Too many bad jokes, poorly carried out gifts and noticeable lack of interest in being with her will send you to the back of the singles line faster than Danica Patrick's Go Daddy commercials turn into pornos. 
Before the News Wife reads this post and thinks I'm going to pull Valentine's Day out of that place where the sun doesn't shine, she should know I have a few things up my sleeve to try and make our first Valentine's Day as husband and wife a special one.
I think I owe her that much.
As much pressure as Valentine's Day can put on a guy, however, this Valentine's Day is even tougher for 90 percent of red-blooded American men with a significant other -- because the green flag for the Daytona 500 drops at 1 p.m. Sunday. In the midst of hearts and flowers, 42 cars are going to be doing 190 miles an hour in tight quarters -- and guy code says we have to watch in case there is a cool wreck.
For a lot of guys, Daytona is their Super Bowl.
It's a day for pizza and wings, beer and friends. My father looks forward to Daytona every year - it's his barometer for the beginning of the end of winter, that time of year where the days gradually get longer and hint of long summer Sunday afternoons with the sound of car engines filling the living room.
And, usually, it's a day the two of us spend together.
I'm not the biggest NASCAR fan on earth, but I look forward to talking racing with my dad, hoping Dale Earnhardt Jr. moves toward the front of the pack and stays there (rather than his usual trick of starting fast and then either fading to 20th or crashing while doing something stupid) and rooting for anyone but Jimmie Johnson or Kyle Busch to win. We'll usually get pizza and maybe some wings and just chill in front of the TV for six hours. It's kind of become a tradition - there might be a nap in the middle of the race, but by the end , we're wide awake rooting for Earnhardt. 
And so, with two national holidays happening on the same day, what's a guy to do?
First off, I think every romantically attached racing fan needs to kick Mike Helton in the gonads. It wouldn’t have killed him to move the race back a weekend. Honestly, if NASCAR didn't have 700 races a season, there wouldn't be a need to be locked into having the biggest race of the season on VALENTINE'S DAY! A lot of NASCAR beat writers pooh-pooh this by saying, "Well, it just falls that way every couple of years. People just have to deal with it.' Here's the problem with that logic - for a sport that has had falling television ratings for the past couple of years, wouldn't you want to guarantee the biggest possible audience possible for your marquee event? Do you really want to put a bunch of whipped men at the whim of their significant other? Unless you have a lazy eye or a clone, you can't pay attention to your wife/girlfriend and the race at the same time. And, seriously, which one of the two is going to lose out? Um, in my house, the race, because I know what's good for me.
Second, guys who really want to watch the race had better start praying now that their wives/girlfriends are understanding. Seriously, most women don't ask that much from us. They understand that, as guys, we'll struggle with holidays and birthdays while remembering even the most arcane sports facts. They know we're probably going to make bodily noises at the most inopportune times, put off taking out the garbage or helping out with the dishes like we put off going to the dentist and probably forget to compliment her on her cooking and unbelievable looks as often as we should. Valentine's Day, however, is usually immune from their understanding of our shortcomings. It's a day to be on your best behavior - no farting, burping, babbling about sports, definitely no checking out your waitress (you know who you are) - and, for God's sake, guys have to be a little bit romantic. If you're a race fan, well, that's bad news. Pizza and wings bring about bodily noises, cars driving 200 miles an hour don’t lend themselves to romance and, I hate to tell you guys this, but Darrell Waltrip's babbling is even worse than our typical sports babbling. If you're watching the race over being Valentiney, your wife/girlfriend should be nominated for sainthood or a straightjacket.
Third, say your significant other just gave you a free guys night to eat, drink and be a guy for the Super Bowl. If you took her up on it, well, you really owe her for Valentine's Day. I'm lucky. My wife watched the game with me at our friend Simon's, and she likes football and racing. Still, it's easy to feel a bit weird to try cramming Valentine's Day into an hour between Sunday morning basketball (for me) and church (for her) and the race (with my dad). Ugh. I'm sure maybe my dad will just come over for the last half of the race, which frees up more time for the News Wife and I, but I don't think some guys will be so lucky.
So, maybe, just maybe, you should have a couples counselor on retainer.
Just in case.


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